French Special Forces Are Interested In the Zapata Flyboard Air Hoverboard

Gungho Cowboy

Perhaps the best thing than owning a drone is being able to have your own personal hoverboard. You can fly to locations instead of driving a car and be able to skip the traffic below. Franky Zapata, the man behind the hydro-powered Flyboards seen at beach resorts, has developed a micro-jet- powered hoverboard called the Flyboard Air in 2016 which his company claims is “the safest, most reliable, lightest, fastest, and least expensive personal flight system ever created.”

Seen at events such as F1, the Flyboard Air is a real hoverboard that can go over 100mph. There is no mention of maximum ceiling and range, as this is still a work in progress as safety features built into it which the company lists:

  • With engine out capability, the Flyboard Air can lose one engine and still continue the mission. If two engines go out, the Flyboard Air will make a controlled descent.
  • Auto-hover mode allows the pilot to maintain a steady altitude without having to manage the throttle.
  • Isolated turbines with improved cooling and lubrication increase jet engine reliability and lifetime.
  • Embedded stabilization independent of flight controls.
  • Status indications via heads-up display inform pilot of engine status, fuel levels, altitude and speed.
  • Independent engine electronics means any possible electronic failure can only effect one engine at a time and the Flyboard Air can still safely fly.
  • Independent engine fuel supplies.
  • Triple redundant flight controls - two wired systems, plus one wireless backup system.
  • Quick release boots means the pilot can quickly let go of the Flyboard Air in case of an emergency water landing.

But the progress of Zapata with the Flyboard Air is so significant that it is attracting interest from French Armed Forces have given it 1.8 million Euros as seed money to further develop it further that it can be used by the French Special Forces.

In a report in Le Parisien (The Parisian), Franky Zapata demonstrated the Flyboard Air, hovering 20 metres over the River Siene towards Bercy. In the audience were Florence Parly, the Minister for the Armed Forces, and Mounir Mahjoubi Secretary of State for Digital Affairs. The demonstration was part of the First Defence Innovations Fair.

According to Zapata, the French Special Forces have been interested in the Flyboard Air for over two years now, which means ever since it was started in 2016. They see a good number of possibilities in using the Flyboard Air as a military hoverboard such as reconnaissance, medical evacuation, and even urban combat which actually makes sense. Fighting in urban areas means being able to go to elevated areas quickly and the Flyboard can do that quickly rather than relying on stairs or waiting for a helicopter to drop them the top floor of high rise buildings.

Zapata is improving on his engine, working with ONERA military research institute and Polynape to make in more stable, secure, and less noisy. If all goes well, then we might be seeing hover troops going into action in the future.

Just imagine playing airsoft mounted on a Flyboard? That would be really tacticool, isn’t it?


Top photo: Zapata Flyboard Air (Zapata Racing Facebook Page)

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20 Oct 2020

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